Cleaning Water with a Cactus Water Filter

Prickly Pear Cactus Water FilterAbout a year ago, I wrote about the benefits of four natural water filters — plants, sand, oysters and coconut. Well, it seems you can throw the prickly cactus in there as one of nature’s water filters as well, according to Norma A. Alcantar, an assistant professor in the University of South Florida chemical and biomedical engineering program.

Alcantar first learned about the thick, gooey mucilage from her grandmother. Now, she and her team are using the gummy goo to provide clean drinking water to residents of rural Mexico. Apparently using the mucilage of a cactus to filter water is nothing new, but it’s now been scientifically-validated.

So how do you filter water with a cactus? Just extract the cactus mucilage from the cactus and put it in the water, where it binds to dirt, particles, bacteria and even arsenic. The mucilage and other contaminants bound to it can then be removed. Alcantar and her team are still researching to see if the cactus mucilage will remove other heavy metals.